The FreeVue video phone program is similar to CU-SeeMe that was featured in last month's Internet 102 article, but it is MUCH FASTER. Whereas CU-SeeMe only sends about one image every few seconds using a 28.8 Kbaud Internet connection, FreeVue sends several images per second using the same speed connection. You can download FreeVue from the web page at http://www.freevue.com and it self-installs when you execute it. When it asks for a name or "handle", you should give your e-mail address. An optional password may also be given to prevent others from using your "handle". If you do not want your "handle" listed in the FreeVue directory every time you run FreeVue, you can check a "Do Not List" check box in the setup dialog.
I tested this program using a Connectix Quickcam ($99 tennis ball sized video camera that plugs into a parallel port) with my parents in Florida, and they were able to see me blink my eyes, smile, and wiggle my fingers. I also tested it with a friend who has a pinball machine running in the background, and I could see the blinking lights on it.
To find other listed FreeVue users to connect to, you can go to the web page at http://www.freevue.com/cgi-bin/nph-directory?active.
If you did not check the "Do Not List" check box, other users can see your "handle", connect to you and look out your camera any time your FreeVue program is running.
You can send Internet e-mail to any fax machine in the Minnesota Twin Cities local calling area, even to people who do not have Internet access, using "The University of Minnesota Fax Service".
To send a fax via Internet e-mail, address the e-mail to /pn=<first>.<last>/dd.fax=<phone>/@fax.tc.umn.edu,where <first> = first name of recipient, <last> = last name of recipient, <phone> = 7-digit phone number of recipient.
The e-mail body should contain the text to include in the fax message.
The fax cover sheet will include the e-mail subject in the "Subject:" field and the recipient's first and last names in the "To:" field.
For example, you may send an Internet e-mail birthday greeting to John Doe at his office fax machine (phone number 555-1234) as follows:
Subject: Birthday Greetings
Happy birthday John. May you have many more.
There are similar e-mail to fax gateways available in many other locations. To find some of them, just use you favorite Internet search engine.
If you are familiar with Pretty Good Privacy, which provides secure encryption and decryption, there is now a Voice On the Net (VON) program which uses this technology. It is called PGPfone, and it provides PGP encryption for Voice On the Net communications. According to the PGPfone home page at http://web.mit.edu/network/pgpfone/, "Source Code will be available shortly." Unfortunately, this program may require a little more horsepower in our computers than some of us have, but computers are getting cheaper every day.
Most of the local libraries have public access terminals (text only) that allow us to access their card catalog databases, and these databases may also be accessed from home using their dial in modem lines. These libraries are connected together via the Internet, and I have discovered not only how to access other libraries, but also how to surf the web and even how to access my e-mail from the library.
I wrote a separate article for this newsletter showing step-by-step instructions on how to access these features. However, after seeing how delicate these systems are and how much trouble the libraries are having with them, and personally knowing immature people who would likey walk away leaving library terminals in states that library personnel do not know how to exit (especially sitting at potentially offensive web pages), I decided that now is not a good time to publish this information (sorry).
Please do not pester the librarians about how to access the Internet (they don't know). Also, don't experiment with the terminals (they crash easily). Instead, wait patiently for the libraries to finish their conversion to Netscape web browsers running on reliable computer systems. Hennepin county libraries announced this conversion planned to be completed this year.
Won't it be great when we can sit down at a library terminal and surf the web with a graphical web browser at high speed? If you don't like waiting, I suggest you volunteer to help the libraries with their Internet project. I know of a couple of people who are already doing volunteer work for this cause.